Failure is a motivator. Success is a paralyzer.

You’ve heard it before, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Or, if you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried anything new. Several years ago, I remember seeing a poster in a classroom I was observing that talked about how people who fail are in good company. The poster went on to show famous failures from history. It was pretty cool. Check it out:

Famous Failures

Anyway, yesterday I attended a school inservice with motivational speaker Salome Thomas-El, a school principal from Philadelphia. Principal El has appeared on Dr. Oz, and is an author to boot. He is renown for giving his inner-city students the game of chess and, with it, the power to escape the hard knocks of urban life. Cool guy. He talked a lot about caring for at-risk kids and reaching them on their level.

Great stuff. During his talk, he said something that stuck with me all day long: “Failure is a motivator. Success is a paralyzer.” Now, I already knew how failure can motivate you to succeed. But I hadn’t heard how success can paralyze you. He explained how his chess students, after learning the game, began to win. Tournaments would approach, but the kids wouldn’t practice because they believed they were already good players. It wasn’t until the kids started losing that they became motivated to become better. Failure was the key.

Of course, as a writer and a person who is driven to succeed, I wondered how I can apply Principal El’s concepts not only to my students but to myself. And not only that, but where would I want to apply those principles? The obvious answer for me was with my writing. I crave success beyond the small measurable amount I’ve had over the past several years. I would be thrilled to have my work represented by a literary agent–my next goal. The road to reaching that goal, however, will be paved with failure. Does knowing this make the trial seem easier? I don’t think so. Failure is a tough pill to swallow. Nobody wants to be rejected. It hurts.

Recently, a fellow author I admire named Kathy McManis Holzapfel, who writes under the pen name, Cate Noble (check her out here), shared a video of a conversation between two blockbuster authors: Stephen King and George R.R. Martin. Within their conversation the authors talked about their projects and writing processes, but one story shared by Stephen King was an eye-opener.

He talked about failure.

In his bedroom when he was just starting out, Stephen King hung a nail in his wall. On that nail, he would stick all his rejection letters to it. He wanted to see his failure so it would motivate him to succeed. Eventually, the rejection letters became so heavy that the nail came out of the wall and fell to the ground. So what did he do? He went and bought a bigger nail. Holy cow! Talk about motivation. If you’d like to see the video, check it out below. It’s lengthy, so if you simply want to see the part of the conversation I’m referring to, it’s around the 21:19 mark. For my young readers out there, there is a little bit of language between the two authors. They are Stephen King and George R.R. Martin, after all.

So, what’s the takeaway from all this? I’d say, for me at least, that I need to buckle down and prepare for rejection. I plan to send out my work to countless literary agents soon. Could be good. Could be hurtful.

But I’ve bought a big nail.

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Bummer! Last days of summer vacation, but keep calm and write on.

Back to school

Welp, summer break will officially be over for me Monday. It’s back to school, to teach those kids a thing or two about Civics and History. I enjoy my time in the classroom with my students. I’m looking forward to getting started, but I’m also sad to see the break end. I have enjoyed spending time with my wife and children tremendously. Usually, I’m in a funk for a few days once I start back to work. I will miss my family. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still see them every day, but my time with them will be lessened quite a bit–especially once my doctorate school starts back up at the end of August. Phew, boy. It’s going to get busy, and it will happen quick. Still need to find time to write.

I enjoy a challenge.

The year isn’t over yet. So far, 2017 has seen two book releases from me: The Hero’s Ballad, an anthology of award-winning short stories, and Adventures in the Arcane, Volume IIan anthology comprised of a myriad of authors written in a fun pulp style with arcane elements. Both are great reads, with strong tales filled with adventure, thrills and heart. But guess what. I still have one more book to release before the year is through.

That’s right. Medical MECH will be my second novel, a book written for middle school kids. The story follows thirteen-year-old Riley Davis as he attempts to stop a robot invasion from destroying his town. He discovers that the only way to defeat the machines is with music, and his bass guitar works best. But Riley will need the help of a punk rocker and her gang of misfit musicians if he is to succeed. Can Riley stop the robots before it’s too late?

Find out in September when Medical MECH hits store shelves. So summer is pretty much over, but life keeps moving forward. Although I will be super busy by the end of this month, I plan to keep devoting time to my writing projects. Not only in the form of Medical MECH, but also with the first novel in the Adventures of Maddie Jones series: Maddie Jones & the Curse of the Terracotta Warriors. Plus, I have set a goal for myself to send out my novels to literary agents this fall in order to secure representation.

Busy. Busy. But I believe hard work pays off.

Keep calm and write on

Hey you! Yeah, you! Will you like my Facebook author page?

Join me on Facebook

I know. Corny title. But hey, I finally got off my lazy butt and created an author Facebook page. I’ve been meaning to do it for quite some time. I just never got around to it. I blame the everyday hustle and bustle of our lives, I suppose.  But I told myself this week, “No more excuses,” and I got to work and created the page. Now you can follow me on Facebook if you’d like. Please do. I’d love to garner a group of followers who can help spread the word about my novels. Anyway, that was all. Nothing else to see here. Except…

… if you look closely enough at my Facebook page, you’ll notice a rough sketch for my next novel’s book cover, courtesy of the talented artist Rob Woodrum. Medical MECH is still in the pre-publication stages, but it’s getting close to complete. Stay tuned for more.

What do you get when authors, readers, food, and storytelling combine?

A good time, that’s what. Holy cow! Countless people converged on the City Arts Cooperative Saturday to buy their copies of Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II. Readers were treated to food and beverages, as well as excerpt readings from all the authors present. Readers were also able to purchase the authors’ additional novels, comics and artwork. I sold quite a few additional books, especially after I read the introduction to Curse of the Conquistador–which you can check out on my short stories page here on this very website. Warning! You’ll be left with a cliffhanger and will end up buying Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II in order to find out what happens to Maddie and her adventure inside her dad’s museum.

Anyway, I had an awesome time with my fellow authors. After the book event, we ended up going out for pizza and beer, fellowship and laughs. I feel blessed to be included in such an amazing anthology along such talented people. At the pizza joint, there was even an art show going on. A lot of people out there call me an artist, being a writer an all, but I never think of myself in that way. I’m simply trying to entertain people through story, and hope to one day make enough money to write more than I currently do. The artwork on display was quite impressive. I tend to not really get art–I’m a fairly simple guy, ask my wife–but I appreciate it nonetheless.

If you couldn’t make it, or live far away as I know some of you do, then check out the pictures from the event. My next novel, Medical MECH, debuts in September…so expect more news on upcoming book events this fall. Plus, there’s Creative Con to consider. Great stuff on the horizon.

Book trailers are cool!

Hey everyone! Click on the image to see the book trailer for Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II. The book is available now! And don’t forget, join the authors tomorrow at the Fringe Gallery at City Arts Cooperative (318 Luverne Ave., Panama City, Florida 32401) from 4-7 pm to get your copy. I hope to see you there!

Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II

Wait, whaaat? You’re saying I can read your next story now…and for free? Crazy!

I know, crazy right? Like the title of this blog post reads, you can check out my next story for free, without buying it. But there’s a catch. There’s always a catch. Sorry about that. The thing is, the story is only partially available. What do I mean? Well, I’ve added a new Short Stories tab to my website. There, you can read the first few pages of Curse of the Conquistador, available now in Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II.

Warning! You’ll be left with a cliffhanger. You’ll find yourself buying the book to finish the tale, which is only $0.99. An additional warning. The book includes 7 additional stories just as great as mine. You won’t be able to put the book down. You may lose sleep. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

On top of adding a sneak peek of Curse of the Conquistador, I’ve archived my older stories on the Short Stories tab, too. Now you can read Toes in the Sand any time you’d like. Plus, a former student of mine wrote a quirky story about a Wizard who plummets from the sky and desperately needs a broom. So check out the tales and pick up Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II. But remember the warning.

Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II

When Nostalgia Meets Gaming

Nostalgia can have a powerful tug at your heartstrings. We often romanticize our past. It doesn’t matter if we were struggling through difficult times, embracing a new adventure, or growing into adulthood, memories will flood our thoughts and remind us of an easier time. Nevermind that living through the event may have challenged us on every level: physical, spiritual, environmental, mental. Nostalgia tells us we lived and we experienced. 

Anyway, all those philosophical thoughts are likely going to be wasted on this post, because from here on out I’ll be talking about the nostalgia of a video game. But it isn’t really the game which brings about the memories, it’s the events I lived during the time I played the game.

The game is Final Fantasy XII. It originally came out October, 2006. My wife and I were newly married. I worked at Shark’s Tooth Golf Club, was still studying to become a teacher (being an author wasn’t even a thought), and I was extremely happy. I can still remember the night I beat the game, because my wife worked all evening long on a college paper while I stayed up and played FFXII. Procrastinator. She should have completed her paper early like I did.

I am pleased to say I’m still extremely happy, married to the same wonderful woman, have three beautiful children and all that jazz…but like I said earlier, times seemed easier then. Chalk it up to nostalgia.

Final Fantasy XII was recently re-released on the PlayStation 4. The game follows orphan, Vaan, as war looms on the horizon. The Archadian Empire is invading neighboring kingdoms, and Vaan’s home of Dalmasca is next. When Dalmasca’s king is assassinated, Vaan, a sky pirate, an exiled knight, and a princess thought dead must uncover the mystery behind the Archadian Empire’s invasion in order to restore their home. It’s a political tale filled with intrigue, airships, and war.

I haven’t played the game in years, and I’m excited to dive into the world of Ivalice once again. The new version of the game even features a new leveling up system, so even though I have beaten the game before, parts of it will feel new and fresh. Add improved graphics and a re-orchestrated soundtrack, and my game sessions will be filled with both fun and nostalgia.

So what are you playing? Shoot me an email and let me know.

Final Fantasy XII

Lost cities, tombs & treasures, and ladies who can beat the snot out of you!

Rise of the Tomb Raider

And this lady is an iconic one, too. Lara Croft, the tomb raider. In her latest adventure, Lara attempts to unravel the mysteries behind the Divine Source–an ancient artifact said to grant immortality. Her father sought the artifact throughout the course of his life, but came up empty-handed. Now Lara has uncovered a missing piece to the puzzle, and she’s off to raid tombs and discover lost cities…and kick guys in the junk! Well, not really, but she knows how to handle herself in a scrap.

Lara’s not the only person seeking the artifact, though. Trinity, an organization reputed to be thousands of years old, is also on the hunt–and they’ll kill anyone who gets in their way. Can Lara overcome an entire band of mercenaries and unravel the past to discover what her dad could not?

The answer is yes and no. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, a video game for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, I accompanied Lara on her latest archaeological thrill ride. Sadly, the game consisted mostly of action and world exploration than historical mysteries, but the game was still fun nonetheless. SPOILER ALERT: she defeats the bad guys, only to learn Trinity is much bigger and more influential than she first believed. There will surely be a sequel, but I might not buy it. Because when it was all said and done and the end credits rolled, I felt like the game lacked that something special. Chalk it up to my own biases. I recently completed both Uncharted 4 and Horizon: Zero Dawn, which I enjoyed for their integration of history and storytelling, and fun gameplay mechanics; respectively. So please know those games skewed my opinion slightly.

Regardless, Rise of the Tomb Raider shined in its optional tombs Lara can explore at various points throughout her adventure. It was during those moments, when I attempted to solve tomb riddles to reach a hidden treasure, that I truly believed the game hit its stride.

I give Rise of the Tomb Raider a 7 out of 10. A mediocre experience from a biased gamer. So what are you playing this summer? Let me know in the comments or shoot me an email. As for my next gaming experience, well, I’m itching for nostalgia. And I’ll get it in Final Fantasy XII: the Zodiac Age–which just came out this month!

Final Fantasy XII

 

Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II

Hey everyone! Check out this book: Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II. Included inside are eight thrilling stories. And wouldn’t you know it, I’m one of the guest authors. That’s right! I wrote a story called Curse of the Conquistador, an adventure about three kids trapped in their dad’s museum while they’re being haunted by the ghost of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado. And you can read it if you purchase this book!

My story isn’t the only awesomeness you’ll get your grubby hands on. You’ll also be treated to seven additional tales guaranteed to set your heart racing. Inside you’ll find femme fatales, mysterious islands, deadly dream worlds, and classic pulp style adventures featuring Captain Gideon Argo, Captain Bullshark Dempsey, Black 23 Agent Dorian Drood, and demon fighter Dominic Ashwood and the wolf shamans Waylon and Jester.

But wait, there’s more! Pulp legend Ron Goulart has one of his stories printed within. Ron has been writing award-winning sci-fi/fantasy stories and novels since the 1970s. It’s way cool to have one of my stories included with such an iconic author.

Lock your door, brew some coffee, and light a candle. Then open this book and prepare to be thrilled! Simply click HERE or on the picture below to get your copy now! I’ve also added the book to my BOOKS page, so you can browse this site to get access, too.

Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II

Vacation Time!

It’s that time of year when my family enjoys time off from school and work. That usually means I don’t write as much, too. You would think my writing time would increase, but I get wrapped up in trips to the zoo, aquarium, big cities and baseball games. I tend to play as much golf as I can, enjoy the beach with the kids–plus we stay up too late and sleep too late. Ah, summer time is great.

I have family in Texas. We’re spending a couple weeks with them around the Houston area. We’ve enjoyed an Astros baseball game, a day at the zoo, another at an aquarium, played several rounds of golf, gamed at an arcade, gone to the movies, and the kids even had a snowball fight. Meanwhile, our hometown in Panama City Beach has been rained out for days on end. We got a bit lucky. But the storm causing much of the rain might hit here in Texas in the next day or so. Keeping fingers crossed we don’t get too much rain.

Amidst all the fun, I have managed to work on my next novel, but only for a brief bit. Medical Mech is slated to release this September. All of my test readers have returned their manuscripts, and I have several areas to work on in order to improve the story before publication. Fortunately, the kids LOVED the book and there isn’t a ton to do; but the areas needing work will require careful tweaking.

Anyway, that’s what has been going on with me since school let out a couple weeks ago. How are you spending your summer?